In the high-density orchard, we grow several dwarf cultivars on a wire and post trellis system. After planting, we bend and train each limb onto individual wires so that the tree can focus energy on fruit production rather than vegetation, support the weight of commercial-grade fruit, and achieve maximum growing efficiency each harvest season. We sell the harvest of this orchard at wholesale to area retailers, schools, restaurants, and at our farm market during the season.
We grow several varieties of heirloom and cider apples in our Homestead Orchard. Often these fruits aren’t great eaters, but they are perfect for juicing and fermenting -- producing bitter-sharp and tannic flavors that make exquisite and complex hard cider.
We are dedicated to growing all kinds of apples, but especially the kinds that our customers love! However, finding the perfect apple requires years of research and cultivation. That’s where our test orchard comes in!
Each year, our team of orcharders hunt for the next big hit! Planting a row of this and a row of that to learn more about each new variety and how it will fare in our growing conditions. There are many reasons why a certain apple may not be suitable for our specific climate -- winters are too cold, springs too dramatic, pests too invasive.
The list goes on and on.
Not every variety makes the cut, and some varieties will never make it past the test phase. However, those that do will be replanted in a new block at our Solon Farm or available for u-pick at Wilson’s Farm and Orchard.
At our Solon Farm, we raise a herd of Katahdin Hair Sheep. They are a low-maintenance breed, known for their superior quality meat. They are an integral part of our farm, helping us repurpose apple pomace (the leftovers from pressing apple cider) as a supplement to their feed.
We practice intensive, rotational grazing, a program that puts our sheep to work as natural terraformers of our farmland. This practice requires moving our flock from paddock to paddock on a regular basis. Each paddock is a concentrated area in which our sheep move together as a group, eating every piece of vegetation (not just the yummy clover).
Through this process, we can better integrate our flock into our farm -- reducing parasites, aerating the soil with their hoof markings, and ultimately allowing us to increase the number of animals that live on our farm.